Mosques and menemen, parks and a palace, electricity outages and water shutoffs, meeting a friend of a friend on the Asia side…Below are pics from the past nine days (but not the utility outages since a non-running faucet and total darkness don’t make for terribly compelling photos).
The Ortaköy Mosque, next to the Bosphorus Suspension Bridge – We would’ve liked to have crossed the bridge on foot but that is no longer allowed.
Gulhane Park in Old Istanbul – a very popular place when we took the light rail there on Monday, October 6
Lunch with a very hungry cat next to Dolmabahçe Palace – Laurel continually picked it up and moved it, but it kept coming back and so did many of its friends.
Dolmabahçe Palace, built in the 1850’s, covers 11.2 acres! We toured the inside and saw its jaw-dropping splendor, but our knowledge of it is based solely on Wikipedia. Although there was an English-speaking tour guide (I think.), we couldn’t hear anything he said because he didn’t wear a microphone to speak to the group of about 75 people as we walked around and through and up and down. There were no informational signs or pamphlets either. The sultan who ordered its construction spent the equivalent of $1.5 billion on it (in today’s money) which contributed to the financial decline of the empire.
No photography is allowed inside the palace, a rule that’s strictly enforced. They can’t spend money on any historical information, but they have grim-faced employees stationed in numerous rooms throughout the tour telling people not to take pictures.
This bizarre sign is taped to the side of a cabinet in our apartment…just above the safe the owner has provided.
We’re within walking distance of several pretty parks.
My friend Suzanne told me about her friend Karen, an American expat who is a librarian in Istanbul. We took a ferry to meet her in Kuzguncuk on the Asia side this morning. She gave us a tour of her neighborhood before we went to breakfast where we enjoyed the menemen, a kind of saucy omelet that we’ve had before and really like.
Karen pointed out this Armenian church as we walked today. She said the Ottomans killed 1.5 million Armenians starting in 1915 but have refused to discuss it or call it genocide. I read on Wikipedia that the able-bodied Armenian men were subjected to forced labor while women, children, and old people were sent on death marches to Syria. Although the church is still open and has a priest, no one goes to Mass there. I’m not sure how they keep the doors open.
We took the Marmaray train that goes under the Bosphorus and that just opened for operation last year home from the Asia side today.
The beautiful train station on the European side where we got off the Marmaray had previously served as the eastern terminus of the Orient Express.
And I almost forgot the power & water outages…To sum up, the city turns off the power and water periodically for a couple hours “when people are using too much.” The electricity in our apartment was out for 20 hours though because I made the mistake of using the dryer shortly after the power came back on Wednesday, something the owner then told me put too much strain on the lines. As Adam Sandler’s character says in “The Wedding Singer,” “Things that could’ve been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!” The water then was turned off a couple days later, but fortunately none of us was in the shower at the time.